Snorkeling with whale sharks is indescribably impressive.
The whale shark owes its name to its immense size of up to 12 m in length and a weight of up to 21 tons. Snorkeling with whale sharks, these gentle giants, is indescribably impressive. Besides its size, it has nothing in common with whales, but belongs to the shark family. The whale shark is not a hunter, but belongs to the filter animals. It is the only living specimen of the genus Rhincodon, whose origins go back as much as 60 million years. The whale shark is the largest living fish and the largest non-lactating vertebrate in the world. The whale shark lives in the area of the equator in tropical, warm waters. It is a migratory animal that is mostly in the open sea and can dive to depths of 1,200 m. The basis for the migration is seasonal feed and probably for mating.
Swim / snorkel with whale sharks in the marine park
The whale shark moves slowly and uses its entire body to move. When snorkeling with whale sharks you can see that it can be a bit of a challenge for the whale shark. To eat, it filters large amounts of water in search of macro algae, krill, plankton and small fish. To do this, he can simply open the huge mouth while swimming and let the water flow through it, or he can suck in large amounts of water by actively opening and closing the mouth.
The approx. 3000 small teeth of the whale shark do not play a role when eating, but the food collects in the filter pads. The mating behavior of the giants is almost completely in the dark. Whale sharks have a life expectancy between 70-100 years and reach sexual maturity after 30 years. They are alive that can carry up to 300 young animals with a size between 40-60cm. The eggs of whale sharks reach a size of approx. 35 cm and are therefore the largest eggs in the world.
The biosphere reserve lies on a limestone slab with countless cenotes and one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world, Ox Bel Ha. In addition to countless cenotes, there are also around 20 Mayan sites in the area of the reserve. Muyil is probably the most important in this area. The largest place in the biosphere reserve is the former fishing village of Punta Allen at the southern tip of the headland. Today Punta Allen is a popular destination.
Whale sharks have a white belly and gray back with pale, yellowish spots and stripes. This drawing on the back is unique and can be used to clearly identify each animal like a fingerprint. The whale shark reaches a size of 12 m and more. Its skin is up to 15 cm thick and it has a wide, flat head with a 1.5 m mouth with approx. 3,000 teeth in 300 rows of teeth with 10 filter pads. The mouth and small eyes are at the front of the head and behind that are 5 large gill slits on each side. The whale shark has two dorsal fins, pectoral and anal fins, and a huge caudal fin. Whale sharks are virtually harmless and there have been reports of pups even playing with divers and swimmers. In 2011, more than 400 whale sharks were sighted off the coast of Yucatan.
The excursion starts at your hotel at around 6 a.m. With the mini-van it goes to Cancun to the private pier at the port of Puerto Juarez. Your guide is waiting for you here with a light breakfast and all the important information for the day. After the briefing, the speedboats will take you to the marine park to see the whale sharks. The journey time is around 45 minutes. When you arrive at the marine park, there are always two people plus a guide to see the giants in the water. We are not pressed for time and there is no reason to push. Everyone can swim with the whale sharks several times until everyone is really satisfied. In addition to whale sharks, we often see manta rays, dolphins and turtles.
After snorkeling, we offer a small lunch of shrimp ceviche, water, soft drinks and beer. Sandwiches, water and soft drinks are available for the entire duration of the excursion. The boat is back at the port of Puerto Juarez between 1 and 2 p.m. and from here it goes back to your hotel, hopefully with unforgettable memories and photos. It is mandatory to wear a life jacket on board and when snorkeling with the whale sharks.